Thursday, January 15, 2015
Doctor's Perspective
Educate yourself and get properly immunized

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Many bacteria inhabit our world. There are so many types of bacteria that most people are unfamiliar with most of their names. The bacteria that causes strep throat (Group A Streptococcus) is well known. Pregnant women are tested for Group B Streptococcus. MRSA (methicillin resistant staph aureus) has become well known as the flesh eating bacteria. We have known about the tuberculosis bacteria for many years. There is one group of bacteria - pneumococcus - that is more deadly than the others. It is very common in both young children and the elderly. It is a common cause of pneumonia. It can cause meningitis and blood infections. It is estimated that between 10 and 20,000 seniors have a serious pneumococcal infection every year. For that reason, the CDC has recommended that individuals over age 65 receive the pneumococcal vaccination. The original vaccine was called Pneumovax. Many individuals have already received it. There are about 90 different types of pneumococcus. Some are more likely to cause infection that others. Pneumovax was aimed at addressing the most common ones. It consists of seven different types of pneumococcus that account for about 44% of serious infections. Receiving Pneumovax results in a significant decrease in serious infections, however, it does not eliminate them entirely. There are 83 other types that can cause infections. For that reason, a newer vaccine called Prevnar was created. Prevnar adds an additional six types of Pneumococcus for a total of 13 types. The extra six types account for another 11% of infections. The result is that getting Prevnar instead of Pneumovax will cut your risk of serious disease by 55%. Right now Medicare only covers one of the two. If you have not yet had a pneumococcal immunization, you should plan to get the Prevnar. If you have already received the Pneumovax, you will need to decide if it is worth paying for the extra 11% of infections. For some people the answer is easy. If someone has a chronic illness, they need to get Prevnar as well. That is true for individuals with diabetes, asthma, kidney disease and many other illnesses. Anyone who is not sure should lean toward receiving it. The most common type of pneumococcal infection is pneumonia. That is how the bacteria got its name. We know that the vaccine can prevent the infection from getting into the blood stream. We are not as sure about it cutting down on the likelihood of pneumonia. Therefore, advertising it as a "pneumonia shot" is a little bit misleading. In this article I concentrated on seniors getting the shot because they have to decide what to do based upon the statistics. We also give pneumococcal vaccine to children. The statistics for them are overwhelming. The vaccine can cut the risk of serious infection by 80%. It is clearly the thing to do and it is also covered by insurance. It is important for individuals to know what their risks are so they can make appropriate decisions. That sometimes means learning the names of new bacteria that might have been unfamiliar. However, the bacteria was out there just waiting to take advantage of individuals who are not properly immunized.

New hires at Delaware Hospice Delaware Hospice is pleased to announce the addition of the following individuals to its staff. Jennifer Boyd, of New Castle County, as a medical assistant. She holds a degree in anthropology from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Samantha Bunting, CNA, of Selbyville, as a certified nursing assistant. Bunting holds certifications in Maryland and Delaware and has been working for Peninsula Regional Medical Center for the past year. Jocelyn Burgess, CNA, of Dover, as a certified nursing assistant. Burgess has a degree in psychology from Wesley College. She has three years experience working with acute care, hospice, and home care patients. Gena Dempsey, RN, of Rehoboth, as a registered nurse. Dempsey earned her BSN from Immaculata University. Tiffanie Fetzer, CNA, of Felton, as a certified nursing assistant. Fetzer earned her degree from Polytech Adult Education and is CPR certified. She has worked for Bayhealth Kent General since 2012. Jocelyn Kelly, RN, of Millsboro, as a registered nurse. Andrea Pohland-Davis, of Wilmington, as the chaplain for New Castle County. Pohland-Davis was ordained in 2013 at One Spirit Interfaith Seminary and holds a bachelor's degree from University of Delaware. She has been a volunteer with Delaware Hospice since 2004. Jennifer Saienni, of Wilmington, as the public relations specialist. Saienni holds a master's degree from LaSalle University and bachelor's degree from Immaculata University. Melissa M. Shoultes, BSN, of Seaford, as a nurse case manager. Shoultes was awarded a bachelor's degree in nursing from Wilmington University.

Sleep apnea support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford is hosting the A.W.A.K.E. - Alert, Well, and Keeping Energetic, sleep apnea support group. Meetings will be held on the following dates from 2:30 to 4 p.m. this year: Jan. 28, Feb. 25, March 25, April 22, May 27, June 24, July 22, Aug. 26, Sept. 23, Oct. 28 and Nov. 25. There is no meeting in December.

Aquacare offers free transportation Aquacare Physical Therapy announces that free patient transportation is now available at their aquatic and orthopedic specialty physical therapy clinics in Lewes, Millsboro, Seaford and Georgetown. Aquacare also offers specialized women's health services including incontinence, pelvic pain, pregnancy, fibromyalgia and breast cancer recovery program. Specialized treatment is available for athletes and work related injuries and auto accidents. To schedule an appointment, call 536-1774.

EMPLOYEE DONATION Nanticoke Health Services Employee Activities Committee (EAC) made a donation of $2,500 to Nanticoke Health Services' Cancer Care Center. In October, employees raised money through a bake sale, a Longaberger basket bingo, and by selling "pink" merchandise for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.